Construction Skills Shortage
First published Wednesday 4 February 2015 in North-East Business News
Author: Andy Richardson
A CONSTRUCTION skills time bomb is ticking, with shortages in key trades and professions, according to the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).
Results from the FMB’s latest State of Trade Survey for Q4 2014 show small construction firms are experiencing particular difficulties recruiting carpenters, joiners and bricklayers.
Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB, said: “As the shock waves from the latest economic downturn continue to reverberate through the construction sector, concerns over diminished workloads have been replaced by concerns over skills shortages.
“This time last year, only 27 per cent of firms were struggling to recruit bricklayers – that figure now stands at a sizeable 42 per cent.”For carpenters and joiners, the figure has nearly doubled with 23 per cent of firms reporting issues in Q4 2013 and 44 per cent of firms now saying these tradespeople are hard to come by. We’re also seeing a rising and significant shortage of roofers, plasterers and site managers.”
Mr Berry continued: “The skills time bomb has arisen for a number of reasons. Around 400,000 construction workers left the industry since the downturn hit in 2007 and many will never return. If you combine this with an increase in workloads as the economy recovers, all the signs point to the skills shortage getting worse before it gets better.
“The FMB is working hard to help address this skills shortage but the Government must also play its part. If ministers could do one thing to help address the problem in the medium term, it should be to review its proposed apprenticeship funding reforms, which our members tell us will prevent them from being able to train apprentices. In the midst of a skills crisis, it’s the last thing the construction industry needs.”
Mr Johanson, spokesman for Local House Painters Glasgow said ” there is a desperate shortage of experienced painters and decorators in Scotland. The lack of companies taking on apprentices in recent years is now starting to show its impact on the industry” He went on to say, “That industries around the globe were appearing to be no different with his good friend Laszlo, is finding it difficult to find suitably qualified staff for his Sydney Removalists business to allow him to grow his business there. The owner of a local taxi business said the same about finding qualified drivers.”
Maul Products Pty Ltd Makes Debut in Australia
Wheel stop and Bollard supplier Maul Products has recently been launched in Australia to service the lucrative car parking market. Thousands of both wheel stops and bollards are damaged and replaced each year.
Marketing Manager for Maul said that they had strong forward orders for their concrete filled plastic wheel stops from apartment developers keen to use the fashionable new design that Maul had brought to Market.
Building a sustainable home doesn’t have to have expensive bells and whistles. With a few key design principals, a sustainable home can be built at little to no additional costs!
Chef and restaurateur Dan Zeidan and his partner Vicky Kordatou embarked on a colossal and experimental project to build their dream sustainable home. The home is located on a 10 acre property at Kinglake, an hour away from Melbourne. This is an area familiar to extreme climate conditions; it was one of the worst hit by the Black Saturday bushfires in 2009.
With the help of eco designer Joost Bakker, Dan and Vicky achieved a zero waste and flame zone rated home made from recycled and recyclable nontoxic materials including straw bale walls for insulation, fire proof magnesium oxide board as cladding and an exterior made up of a metal cage filled with crushed brick for a unique finish. For Dan and Vicky, aesthetics were not the top priority; rather they wanted a home that was functional and coexisted with its environment. The outcome is a home that will withstand and endure the harsh elements of this site and most importantly a home that was designed and built with sustainability in mind.
A sustainable home must respond to the local climate and surrounding environment, remaining comfortable with minimal heating/cooling demands. Here are some simple ways to incorporate sustainability design principles in your home.
PASSIVE SOLAR DESIGN
Passive solar design uses the energy from the sun to heat, cool, and illuminate the home, resulting in low heating and cooling bills. There are three key elements:
1. Building Orientation
Choose a site or home with a good orientation for your climatic and regional conditions, this will maximise the site’s potential for passive heating and passive cooling. Good building orientation and appropriate room layout will bring warmth to living areas in winter and shade protection and cooling breezes in summer. In Australia, the ideal aspect is for main living areas to face north or north-east
2. Carefully designing the building envelope (roof, walls, windows and floors)
Careful consideration of window placement and size, glazing type (double or treated glazing), efficient heating and cooling systems, solar hot water, solar panels, green roofs, walls and facades, rainwater capture and greywater reuse can enhance the performance of your home.
3. Existing buildings can also be adapted or retrofitted to be more sustainable.
During a renovation, reorient rooms (where possible) for optimum solar design. Adding insulation to ceilings, walls and floors, and adding energy efficient lighting and water efficient fittings are also simple, effective ways to improve a home.
SUSTAINABLE BUILDING FEATURES
4. Green roofs, walls and facades
These features can reduce stormwater drainage and improve the thermal performance of a building by reducing heating and cooling. On a larger scale, it can help cool a city, create and preserve various habitats and promote ecological biodiversity which enhances our urban landscape and cleans the air.
IMAGE: CR Land Guanganmen Green Tech Showroom built in 2008 by Vector Architects in Beijing, China is a great example of a green wall application. For more images click here.
5. High Performance windows - when building, window systems are one of the high cost ticket items and selecting the right solution for your home is key. There are many window configurations on the market, from using low-e coatings, selective transmission films, inert gas fills and thermal breaks to a combination of these for the right application. Energy efficient windows will make your home more comfortable while dramatically reducing your energy costs and helping to create a brighter, cleaner, healthier environment.
Finally to help you with your next sustainable project and research don’t forget to attend the Sustainable House Day and keep the Sustainable checklist handy for your reference.
6. Sustainability checklist for designing a new home or renovating a home
- Locate rooms most used (kitchen, lounge and bedrooms) on the side of the house orientated to the North.
- Locate rooms to take advantage of winter sun and cooling summer breezes.
- Consider window size and placement to promote and enhance cross- ventilation to the south, east and west.
- Thermal mass can be achieved by locating utility areas (laundries, bathrooms and garages) on the south or west where possible, avoid locating sleeping rooms on the west.
- Structures such as carports or sheds that will block northern sun should be minimised if located on the northern facade.
- Overall landscape design and plant placement should funnel cool breezes and block or filter harsh winds.
- Vegetation should be pruned to avoid blocking out winter sun. Planting deciduous vegetation that allows winter sun to penetrate and provides shade during summer is a great option.
7. Sustainable House Day
Since 2001, Sustainable House Day (in collaboration with the Australian Solar Council) has given visitors a chance to inspect houses that have been designed, built or renovated with sustainability in mind. This year’s event will be held on Sunday 13 September from 10am to 4 pm. For more information and a list of participating homes near you, visit sustainablehouseday.com.